An Eclipsing Full Moon for May 16, 2022

Photo by George Desipris – Pexels

A lunar eclipse is set to occur on May 15 and 16 and it will be a Supermoon and it will likely have a bit of a reddish color (“Blood Moon”. Supermoons are Full Moon that seems to be bigger than usual. The red comes from particles in the Earth’s atmosphere changing the color of the reflected light.

According to NASA, the eastern half of the United States and all of South America will have the opportunity to see every stage of the lunar eclipse. Totality will be visible in much of Africa, western Europe, Central and South America, and most of North America. A second lunar eclipse will take place on November 8.

Some info on all that is at space.com

All that makes calling this month’s Full Moon the “Flower Moon” or any of its other names seem rather anti-climatic. Common names for the May Full Moon are the Flower Moon and Planting Moon. Some less common but more interesting names and stories from past years on this site include: the Buddha Full Moon, Corn Planting Moon, Hare Moon, Moon When Frogs Return, Blue Moon and Day for Night, Milk Moon, Grass Moon, and another eclipsing Moon in the Shadow.

November’s Micro Beaver Blood Moon Eclipse

moon approach
NASA image

The next full moon will be on Friday, November 19th at 4:02 am ET. This month you can hang many labels on the Full Moon.  Micro Beaver Blood Moon Eclipse is a mouthful, so let me explain.

Common names for this Full Moon are the Beaver Moon, Frost Moon (or Freezing Moon depending on your location) and the Deer Rutting Moon.  But this year it will get more attention because it will be what some people call a blood moon eclipse.

The Moon will reach its full redpoint 4:02 a.m ET and Americans can get a quick glimpse if they are awake. If you want to see the complete eclipse, you’ll have to start watching at 2:18 a.m ET when the white moon starts shifting to red.

This is a  partial lunar eclipse but it will put 97% of the Moon into darkness. Depending on where you are in the world it occurs on Thursday, November 18 and into the early hours of Friday over North America. It will also be visible from Australia, New Zealand, eastern Asia and part of South America.

The big buzz in the media is that this will be the longest partial lunar eclipse since 1440. The entire eclipse lasts around 6 hours, Not to spoil things but the longest lunar eclipse in recent history was the total lunar eclipse of July 27, 2018, which lasted about 12 minutes longer than the one this week.

Here’s another label to hang on this lunar event. Lunar eclipses only happen on the night of a full moon. This month’s Full Moon will be the smallest full moon of the year. This is known as a “micromoon” which is the opposite of the “supermoon.” Supermoons are a popular term for when the Moon is closest to Earth. This month, the Moon will be at near apogee (the point in its orbit when it is farthest away from the Earth) and so it is a micromoon. It will appear about 14% smaller and 30% dimmer than a supermoon. Will you notice this with the naked eye? Probably not.

If there are no clouds obscuring the Moon, you should be able to see it even in a light-polluted place, unlike meteor showers. If its cloudy or you don’t want to go outside, the timeanddate.com website will be providing live coverage of the event on YouTube from 2 a.m. ET.

North America will experience a pair to total lunar eclipses next year in May and November.

The Full Moon Moves Through a Shadow

eclipse

I watched some of today’s Full Moon plus lunar eclipse, but I watched it online.  The event received the usual media blitz and it was being called a Super Flower Blood Full Moon with a total lunar eclipse. That’s a lot of adjectives for one Moon day.

I read about it last month and made a draft post to remind me to write something about it but that fancy name sort of turned me off.

The May Full Moon is often called the Flower Moon for obvious blooming reasons. “Blood Moon” is a non-astronomical term for when lunar eclipses make the Moon appear a reddish color. “Super” Moons, as I have written before, is when this natural satellite approaches Earth at its closest possible distance. That happened in April too.

The eclipse is a real astronomical event and was visible for those living in western North America, western South America, eastern Asia, and Oceania.

It may have looked reddish. There may be flowers blooming where you live. It probably won’t look any bigger tonight to you. But there was an eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow which occurs only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned (in syzygy) with our planet between the other two, and only on the night of a full moon.

According to Wikipedia, there are several cultures that have or had myths related to lunar eclipses. It may be seen as a good or bad omen. The Egyptian, Chinese, and Mayan traditions once viewed the Moon as being swallowed by some creature. The Ancient Greeks correctly believed the Earth was round and so saw the shadow from the lunar eclipse as evidence of that. Some Hindus believe in the importance of bathing in the Ganges River following an eclipse because it will help to achieve salvation.

Eclipse or not, this Flower Moon is called by the Cree people the Budding Moon or Leaf Budding Moon, and for the Dakota and Lakota people, this is the Planting Moon.

A Faint Eclipse on the Mourning Moon

Mourning Moon

The Full Moon for November is late, arriving tomorrow (the 30th) at 09:30 UTC, because the last Full Moon was on the last day of October. Here in Paradelle, the Moon will be full at 4:30 AM EST appearing opposite the Sun.

But the Moon always appears full for about three days around this time, so from Saturday night through Tuesday morning, it seems to most people that there is a Full Moon.

There will also be a very faint penumbral lunar eclipse. It will be nearly imperceptible, so you probably won’t see anything when you look up at that Full Moon even while it is happening.  I suppose a really careful observer, maybe with a telescope in a dark place, might see a subtle shading on the Moon

This celestial event made me think of the poem by Billy Collins, “As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse” from his collection, Nine Horses.

I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin…

That poem reminds me of  a solar system model that was in a number of my school classrooms where you could move the planets around the Sun which made me, like Collins, feel like “a benevolent god presiding / over a miniature creation myth.”
What you will be able to see in the night sky near the Moon during the eclipse is a reddish star called Aldebaran. That star is the Eye of the Bull in Taurus. The tiny dipper-shaped Pleiades star cluster (which is used in the Subaru emblem) will be nearby.

The November Full Moon has many names. In the past, we have used many of these names, especially those that apply to Paradelle nature signs, such as the Beaver Moon, Fog Moon, Moon of the Falling Leaves, Frost Moon, and Snow Moon.

In some pagan traditions, this is the Mourning Moon. Though many of us reflect on the year and make personal changes in our lives with the new year, this Full Moon can be seen as a time to let go of the past. If there is a bad habit, fears or emotions that are weighing you down, you are supposed to send them off as the moon rises Monday morning. A morning Mourning Moon for 2020 – a year many of us are quite willing to let go.

Eclipsing the Moon

January 2019 lunar eclipse animation.gif
The eclipse will take place in the constellation of Cancer, just west of the Beehive Cluster.   Animation by Tomruen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Even people who don’t pay attention to the sky or even notice stars, planets and the Moon’s phases will probably take a look at the total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019. The media have been talking about it for a few days already and throwing around terms like “Supermoon” and “Blood Moon.”

Here in the Americas, the eclipse will take place between the evening of Sunday, January 20 and the early morning hours of Monday, January 21. This eclipse will be visible in Paradelle and the New York metro area starting at 9:36 pm local time. The Earth’s shadow will be covering the lunar surface until 2:48 am – so plenty of time to get outside to look before bedtime and even more viewing for insomniacs.

The eclipse will be visible in its entirety from North and South America, as well as portions of western Europe and northwest Africa. Observers at locations in Europe and much of Africa will be able to view part of the eclipse before the Moon sets in the early morning (pre-dawn) hours of January 21.

The eclipse will occur at a time when the Moon is closer to Earth (perigee) than at other times and that is where the “super” comes from. It will appear somewhat larger to most viewers.

As with most lunar eclipses, the moon will appear somewhat reddish during the eclipse because of an optical phenomenon (Rayleigh scattering) of sunlight through the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s basically the same reason that we see sunsets as more reddish than the Sun at earlier parts of the day.

If you somehow miss the event, this is the last total lunar eclipse until May 2021.

Full Moon in the Time of Much Ripening

golden moon

Tonight’s July Full Moon is usually called the Buck Moon. I saw on the calendar that there is a Night Hike under the Full Buck Moon at the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area near me in New Jersey. That is a beautiful natural beach area and if all the rain of his week clears out for the evening there, it should be a great setting to observe the ecosystem below that Full Moon.

That Buck Moon name comes at a time of year when a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode. This is known as when the antlers are in velvet. They will do their bloody scraping of those antler and prepare for rutting season closer to autumn.

Both American Indians and colonists used the Buck Moon name, but there are many other American Indian tribal names that use notable nature signs from their geographic region. For example, the Cree noted this as the Moon When Ducks Begin to Molt.

The Lakota called this the Moon When The Chokecherries Are Black and other tribes noted this as the time for huckleberries. Several tribes referenced the corn which was an important crop that they planted and relied upon. This gives us names such as the Corn Moon, Young Corn Moon or Ripe Corn Moon (Cherokee). For the Choctaw this was the Little Harvest Moon or Crane Moon.  depending on your location. The Algonquin called this the Squash Are Ripe Moon.

I used this year the more general Mohawk name of the Time of Much Ripening because wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere some things are ripening.

And yes, today is also the “century’s longest lunar eclipse” is also today BUT this lunar eclipse is primarily visible from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand). In South America, you can watch the final stages of the eclipse just after sunset July 27, whereas New Zealand will catch the beginning stages of the eclipse before sunrise July 28. For those of us in North America, most of the Arctic and much of the Pacific Ocean, we will miss out entirely.